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Salon Goes Inside the X-Box 483

Romancer writes "According to this article, Recent X-box "Sales have been disappointing, and the co-creator of Microsoft's game console just quit his job -- a day before a book portraying him as a hero hit the bookstores." " The article itself is allright, but it has a lot of good links.
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Salon Goes Inside the X-Box

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  • The xbox is like an American car, its big, its fast, it just doesn't turn corners! :)
  • So from the way the development team has lost its head the version 2 of the xbox will be a completely different creature.

    But, since this is hardware (as opposed to software where it is easier to fix mistakes) can MSFT really succeed/afford in making a new versions untile they become successful.

    xbox looks doomed as matters stand now.
    • Re:Xbox Version 2 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sugrshack ( 519761 )
      since when does lack of quality = failure?

      I mean, if that were the case, nobody would be using AOL (or outlook express, for that matter).

      sure this version isn't doing that well, but when the Borg sets it targets on an area of the market, you can be fairly certain that it will eventually be assimilated.

    • For any question which begins "Can Microsoft really afford...", the answer is usually 'Yes'. Some quick Googling revealed that they have [] "over $30 billion in cash reserves, with $40 billion expected by the end of the year" (I think that's a 2001 quote -- whatever, it's definitely north of $30b).
      • For any question which begins "Can Microsoft really afford...", the answer is usually 'Yes'. Some quick Googling revealed that they have "over $30 billion in cash reserves, with $40 billion expected by the end of the year"

        This [] is an interesting article on how Microsoft manage their cash reserve - later pages discuss their plans for it.
  • First try. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <{digitalunity} {at} {}> on Friday April 26, 2002 @08:56AM (#3415126) Homepage
    Microsoft needs to help the developers. Give them free dev kits. Give them free support. If you built it, they will come.

    Without massive developer interest like there was with the Sony PS1, you end up with a flop like the Dreamcast. Good games are the only thing that will keep the customers interested.

    No amount of advertising can compensate for mediocrity...

    Wait a minute. Did I just say that about MS?
    • Re:First try. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by magicsquid ( 85985 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:15AM (#3415200) Homepage
      There's a problem with your logic. The Dreamcast had a huge number of GREAT games and yet it still fell prey to the onslaught of PS2 hype that Sony generated.

      Unfortunately, in this day and age good games aren't enough to carry a system. You also have to spend lots of cash on solid marketing and name recognition.
      • ...and that's after Saturn sold at a loss. It cost them nearly a billion dollars and put them out of the hardware business. That kind of thinking is what killed the Dreamcast.

        It was a seriously over-ambitious system. The electronics were too expensive (hence the loss), and (likely in an attempt to compensate) the other parts were cheap and poorly designed. When you pick up a Dreamcast controller in your hands, it screams "Piece of junk!" through your fingers.

        Sega needed it to sell big, and sell lots of games to make up the loss, basically to push Playstation aside right out the gate. It didn't, and by the time word started getting around about the great games, talk of the Playstation 2 killed it.

        It didn't look or feel like a better system than the Playstation, and it was launched with the unrealistic expectation of (and desperate need for) a quick win. People perceived it as a loser box, a machine that would be abandoned, and lo and behold it was. This drove away users and developers alike.

        It's true, good games aren't enough to carry a system. You also need a solid strategy for more new games, and a system that looks like you should buy it and feels like something worth hundreds of dollars.
    • Re:First try. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:42AM (#3415335)
      Microsoft needs to help the developers. Give them free dev kits. Give them free support. If you built it, they will come.

      Sorry, that wouldn't help. They'd just attract a lot of people writing Mario Kart clones and such. Developing big name console titles is a very expensive business. The typical game costs 4-5 million ($US) to develop. You're not going to say "Yeah! Xbox!" just because you get a free dev kit. That the Sony kits originally cost $20,000 is irrelevant when you're looking at blowing five million dollars.
  • Windows YP will include X-BOX as a mandatory part of the operating system. Bill Gates says:

    "Not inclusion of X-BOX in Windows put the development of Windows 10 years back. Now, we can move in the bright future with Windows YP! Toaster included, too!"
  • by timothy_m_smith ( 222047 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @08:57AM (#3415128)
    All of the articles talking about Blackley's departure as being a sign of XBox's fall are mostly just hype. Blackley did this interview [] with Gamespot and said that his departure had to do with the coming of E3 and the formation of his own game company.
    • Xbox falls. Right... Sales are disappointing.

      Well, he wouldn't say "oh,that xbox was a crap trying to compete with 128bit Sony PS/2 with absolutely awful Microsoft image behind on their own game" right?

      Since its first debut or rumors, I couldn't get why on earth a person with p4 2000/GeForce 4 would buy xbox either... Yes,there are my friends having such configuration AND bought a PS/2 too.

      One of the reasons were especially simple and funny looking... They bought it instead of an DVD deck. There are some stories that, Xbox needs another thing to play DVDs...

      I wouldn't want to sound funny but... If next Xbox was based on Itanium or AMD Hammer chip, something you CAN'T GO AND BUY FROM A SHOP directly, it will sell real good.

      On same time, PS/3 will feature Grid computing from IBM :-)

      Worst fault was... Using Microsoft name on it. Moderate me troll or not.
  • by 00_NOP ( 559413 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:06AM (#3415159) Homepage
    I think the Dreamcast experience shows us that you just cannot recover from the position the Xbox is in - unless....

    Well, MS could obviously use its market power to cut prices to silly levels. If it did it all over the world then it could be accused of dumping, but it would be high risk - MS would look to make money on the games, but would face more law suits.

    Yet, given the pathetic nature of penalties suggested by the DoJ they might want to take that risk.

    And what government wants to go up against a company selling its console for $99?

    Anyway, get a Dreamcast. They're cheap and you can run Linux on them!

    More DC Linux Stuff here. []
    • Anyway, get a Dreamcast. They're cheap and you can run Linux on them!

      Yeah, except that you can't get them new any more (by all means, let me know if I'm wrong - but just me. We don't want a repeat of last week when somebody bought all 304 copies of crazy taxi 2 off to ebay them later).

      And buyer beware: a small percentage of Dreamcasts cannot run Linux or any CD-R software for that matter. Check the compatibility list [].
    • by Wingchild ( 212447 ) <> on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:41AM (#3415327)
      I agree, MS could cut prices to such a level that they could flood the market with cheap units. However, unlike the old Vetrex system which had an asteroids-like game burned into the console ROM itself, the X-Box requires software - and there lies the deficiency.

      Microsoft made all the same mistakes that Neo Geo did in releasing a console - all the same mistakes that 3DO did. (Please tell me I'm not the only gamer old enough to remember.) Impressive hardware, nice design specs, even a cool niche idea - but not enough support. The Neo Geo was only for NG games and didn't have third party support that I'm aware of. The 3DO had so few games that I hesitate to think of more than one offhand.

      The X-Box has fallen into the same perilous pitfall. MS built a system that's a bear to develop for and they didn't secure enough games on release day. Hell - in their release year.

      The Gamecube sells because Nintendo has the almighty power of branding in the console market, and because they've got games by legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto; that makes a lot of difference. Nintendo isn't about games, it's practically about franchises, esp when Miyamoto gets involved.

      The Playstation 2 sells because, even though it's beastly hard to develop for, it was backward compatible with the libraries of PS1 games already out there. ("Look, Mom! You don't *need* to buy me all new games!") On top of that, they've got heavy duty third-party support: Konami's Metal Gear Solid series, and Squaresoft's Final Fantasy, to name two offhand.

      MS didn't pay attention and has wound up in a bad way. On top of not paying attention to the console market, which they really didn't know, MS didn't even pay attention to the *PC* market, which is their bread and butter. They should know how tight the hardware markets are and how difficult it is to sell a third-party system; they've spent years ensuring this is how it would be. Yet, even so, they distribute the X-Box -- a scaled down PC, with the ability to port your PC games to it -- which places it directly in contention for a part of the PC Gamer market.

      Alas, PC gamers have already bought their hardware and aren't bloody well likely to jump ship for Halo's sake.


      I just don't know. MS has made every mistake they possibly can make with the X-Box. I don't see that unit climbing out of obscurity. They should lick their wounds and prepare for round two, because this one is lost; maybe they should go read about Sega's console history, and see how Sega made the leap from the Master System to the Genesis. (and then *not* follow them down the same paths as the Saturn or the Dreamcast..)
      • so your saying MS entered the console market the same way it has entered every other market its in?

      • by rnd() ( 118781 )
        I just don't know. MS has made every mistake they possibly can make with the X-Box. I don't see that unit climbing out of obscurity. They should lick their wounds and prepare for round two, because this one is lost; maybe they should go read about Sega's console history, and see how Sega made the leap from the Master System to the Genesis. (and then *not* follow them down the same paths as the Saturn or the Dreamcast..)

        A lot of people have said similar things about Microsoft's initial failures, only to be proven very wrong after a year or two once Microsoft has won the war.

        I think that more competition in the console market is better for everyone. Yes, Microsoft rarely gets a product right on the first try, but look at the difference between win 98 and win 2000. Two years can make a big difference.

        All companies make mistakes. Not all companies learn from them.

        • MS Money never knocked off Intuit...

          Had an interesting conversation with friend who works at Microsoft... He agrees that there isn't enough exposure to non-MS products among the employees.

          MS wins by bundling, product dumping, etc...

      • The problem with the 3DO and the NeoGeo (for home use) were price, both costed upwards of 600+ dollars, and that was back in early 90s money.

        Microsoft's going to make plenty of bank on the XBox overall. This whole thing is pretty much a non-issue, and is a bunch of media hype about Microsoft being a failure for not being the #1 console. Nobody in Microsoft expected to be anywhere near the #1 console, Sony built way too good of a brand name with the Playstation. Microsoft is in this for the long haul, at least two more hardware releases.

        Also, the PS2 sold mostly on the brand name, it would have sold well even if not PS1 compatible. Further, the PS3 looks like its going to be even harder to program for, using tons of processors (IBM style grid computing), and Sony has shown no interest in providing better libraries and documentation for even the PS2..They are getting away with this now because the sold a mass of consoles based on their brand name, but treating 3rd party developers the way Sony does is a dangeorous business, ONE slip-up on the business side, and developers are going to flock away from Sony in a mass exodus.. That's not a good position to be in for the long term, and Microsoft realizes that (Nintendo also realizes this after the N64 debacle).

    • The X-box is about to take a price dive of £100 in the UK ($140?). This will happen in the next couple of days and was sent out in a memo to Toys'R'Us yesterday. The reason for this is said to be to compete with the Gamecube which is being released at £130. I think that bad sales may have also had an effect on this decision.
  • Granted, we have a lot of gloom and doom here, with sales dropping, MS dropping their expected shipments by 40%, Blackley leaving, etc... but this is MS remember. Against the juggernaut of PS2, the Xbox does seem dead, but then MS doesn't usually just drop something that has this much market/profit share. Will MS make a bid to buy out Sony's PS development team to 86 any competition? We will have to wait and see....
  • "Opening the Xbox" is published by Prima Publishing. Among gamers, the Prima name is best known for publishing strategy guidebooks for a wide variety of console and computer titles. Prima guides are currently available for more than a dozen Xbox games, including Microsoft's popular shooter Halo and gridiron simulation NFL Fever 2002. Strategy guide publishers like Prima often depend heavily on the cooperation of game companies -- like Microsoft -- to release hint books that are information packed, timely and useful to gamers.

    They also depend on mushbrained "journalists" giving them free advertising. That paragraph is worded like a prima press release, no one uses "information packed" in any other context.

    Question - is Mr McCauley (who wrote the Salon article) a complete tool, or did he agree to include that exact phrasing in exchange for getting some sort of access? Have things gotten to the point where companies like Prima can dictate terms to the press? (He actually works for the Philadelphia Inquirer, not Salon.)
    • I think he was emphasising the fact that they need to keep on the game companies' good sides, otherwise their hint books are 'thin on information, late to market and useless to gamers'.

      However, it does read as if he cut & pasted that straight from a company press release. A friend of mine works in PR, and says it's amazing the amount of stuff he writes that he sees verbatim in newspapers and magazines in the weeks and months after a particular release goes out...

    • Strategy guides are the biggest ripoff in gaming! The basic premise of a strategy guide is that "Without this guide, you won't be able to fully enjoy this game." If you believe that, doesn't that mean the game can be described by one or more of:



      Badly designed

      Overly difficult

      I have said before that well designed games don't need manuals, and yet here's a whole subindustry devoted to selling you an additional manual! I suggest to all of you that if you play a game and have so much trouble figuring it out to the point where you think a "strategy guide" would be useful, you write to the company that made the game and tell them what's wrong with it. Because if you need a strategy guide, there is something wrong with the game. Most game developers love to hear suggestions on what they could have done better, and if enough people tell them, their next game will be better.

      Furthermore, if you get stuck anywhere in any game, it's almost certain that someone will have posted a walkthrough, or even just a usenet post (which Deja/Google will do a wonderful job of finding for you) with the solution. Meaning you spent $10 up front for a guide you might or might not need (if you're buying it in case you get stuck) when you could have found the information for free from your fellow gamers.

      Oftentimes strategy guides aren't even that good. I've worked on and seen enough games in development to know that some of the authors don't even spend much time at all with the game, and essentially just push rewritten versions of the manual or design document out the door as quickly as possible. To be fair, that isn't true for all of them, some guide book authors really do try to provide a valuable service. The main point of this rant is that it's only even a potentially valuable service as long as game companies are writing bad games. And if the games are bad, you shouldn't buy them.

      I would love to hear a counter example from someone who buys strategy guides and finds they improve the experience (of an otherwise good game) somehow. Anyone out there?

      • guides work because too many people don't want to figure it out.
        "Its too hard, I'll buy a manual" or
        "I want to do this faster then my buds, I'll buy a manual"

        by too hard I mean "I don't want to actually think about the puzzle for longer then 20 minutes"

        My reason for buying manuals? maps. After years of drawing maps on graph paper, I just had enough.

        That stoped when most gams sarted putting decent maping displays in there games.
      • Just wanted to point out a website called GameFAQS []. It contains hundreds of FAQs, walkthrough, tricks, eastereggs, and user reviews all for free! (and for most console and computer systems out there, to boot). I'm trying to load it right now, and it's being a little slow, but the last time I used it (to find if I missed anything in Black and White I believe), it was extremely useful.

        (No, I'm not affiliated).
      • $10 for a strategy guide? They're at least $15.
  • For once.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NiftyNews ( 537829 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:07AM (#3415165) Homepage
    Know what would be nice? A plain old gray box with decent controllers. I know they think they need to spend millions on colors and designs, but why do these companies always end up with shoddy controller plans?
    • I actually like the controllers. My hands are just a wee bit on the large side, and the xbox controllers are a nice fit. The PS2's, just seem painful.
      • I think they should make the controllers flat grey boxes about six inches long by two inches wide by half an inch deep (or maybe a bit smaller) with only two red buttons, a single cross-shaped directional control, select and start buttons, and nothing else.

    • How about a plain old black box with excellent controllers? Get a PS2!

      Seriously, the PS2 is a plain black box, nothing really fancy about the design. It's not an eyesore of course, it looks nice but it's a simple design. And the controllers... Best... Controllers... Ever... Why do you think there are so many PS2-xxx controller adapters?

  • Price cuts in Europe (Score:2, Informative)

    by MungoBBQ ( 524032 )
    X-box has been selling almost nothing over here in Europe but today is the first day with the new price, 299 which brought the Xbox to below $300 here in Sweden where it was previously around $500. Reportedly several stores have sold out of Xbox today so maybe now things will get going for Microsoft in the gaming arena.
  • Wrong reasons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misfit13b ( 572861 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:14AM (#3415193)

    Reading one of the side articles that the topic article linked to, it seemed that Gates was more interested in attacking Sony than he was in putting out a product that people would actually enjoy.

    My brother has one of these things, and I hate the controller (even the smaller Japanese version that he picked up on a visit overseas). The games are nothing new (older PS2 re-releases for the most part, and don't even talk to me about Halo - if I want a FPS I've got my PC).

    So am I surprised that it's not doing all that well? No. I think this one should have spent a little more time on the drawing board, and not come out just to take sales away from Sony.

  • by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hsan.nosaj'> on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:14AM (#3415197)
    I have all the current consoles, in fact, I have almost every console that has been made.

    Of the current three the best hardware is the XBox. You get the HD for saving games and adding levels/characters/etc. You get true high definition support. True wide screen support. And very good Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The GC game selection isn't very good, but it's cheaper. It has no DD and not all games support 480p resolution. The PS2 can only do DD in cut scenes. Not many games at all do wide screen. Both the GC and the PS2 still use memory cards. The XBox also has the shortest load times for games by far. The XBox also has built-in Ethernet.

    As for game selection the PS2 wins, mainly because it's been out so long that the good games have appeared. Nintendo needs to get their Mario/Zelda/Metroid games out NOW. Microsoft is steadily releasing good games. Also, go hit IGN sometime when a game comes out on all three consoles. They have started doing very good side-by-side-by-side comparisons, and the XBox always wins. Better graphics, better sound, and sometimes extra levels/characters/etc.

    Microsoft won't lose this. They have far more plans for this system than a simple game console. Give them another year to get even more good games out and we'll see what happens.
    • What I see is a p3 733 CPU with custom Nvidia chip (anyone dares to benchmark?) running some extra-cool directX which MS is hiding from us (PC users) oh and a HD which runs some form of FAT (omg,make it at least ntfs for journaling,household electricity problems)

      Did you see Sony PS/2's specs? Don't you laugh to those people (they finally got a clue) saying Xbox would kill PS/2 because it has 733 Mhz CPU???

      MS couldn't win this game. Maybe next time... Oh and those "cool" plans... No, I don't want BillG in my god damn TV... :-)

      • It doesn't matter what the PS/2 has when the games look bad. It's hard for me to play a lot of them because the graphics are so jagged. No contest, the XBox games look far better than the PS/2 games. Go look at some comparisons between the same game.
      • In today's console world there is no "next time". If Microsoft doesn't make the Xbox fly there will be few game publishers or developers who will be willing to shell out the kind of cash for a company that couldn't get their last system together.
    • XG3 does Dolby Dig in-game, SSX Tricky has DTS in game. *poof* goes that point.
      • Uh, wrong.

        The PS2's "support" for Dolby Digital consists of playing canned 5.1 audio samples. It's the audio equivalent of FMV.

        The Xbox on the other hand has a built-in Dolby Digital *encoder*, so that the realtime ingame 3D audio is placed using all the DD channels.

        • It seems that the mentioned games do support ingame DTS/DD. That is a testament to clever programmers writing software audio encoders. If you can afford to give up that CPU, that's cool.

          The PS2 itself has no support for ingame DD/DTS whatsoever.

          • Correct. No encoder in the PS2 hardware, but that's a different matter from not supporting DD/DTS at all.

            As I recall, SSX Tricky actually utilized the second Emotion Engine CPU to do the sound calcs, leaving the first CPU to do geometry setup/physics/etc., which goes towards making Sony's point about having a flexible architecture. It allows clever programmers (like those at EA Big) to do plenty of stuff that the hardware itself was never programmed/designed to do.
            • It allows clever programmers (like those at EA Big) to do plenty of stuff that the hardware itself was never programmed/designed to do.

              Which is nice if said stuff isn't core to most every game on the platform. 3D audio should probably be supported in hardware.

    • I think you are totally wrong.

      First off, they don't have many good games in their lineup for the forseeable future.

      They have completely failed in Japan, which is a real problem because many of the best games come from Japan.

      How are they going to make money? They have put a PC in a box and are selling it at a loss, whereas Sony and Nintendo either make money or at least break even on their console sales. Microsoft took a shortcut and simply put a PC in a box, because their expertise is not in making hardware, that's simply not going to work from a business standpoint.

      • I think you are totally wrong.

        So are you.

        First off, they don't have many good games in their lineup for the forseeable future.

        That is *YOUR* Opinion. Personally, My opinion is that Halo, Project Gotham, Max Payne, Munch's Odysee, Simpsons Road Rage, Rallisport Challenge and DOA3 have all been EXCELLENT games.
        They have completely failed in Japan, which is a real problem because many of the best games come from Japan.

        How are they going to make money? They have put a PC in a box and are selling it at a loss, whereas Sony and Nintendo either make money or at least break even on their console sales. Microsoft took a shortcut and simply put a PC in a box, because their expertise is not in making hardware, that's simply not going to work from a business standpoint.

        Where do you get this nonsense? Everything is a PC in a box. Why such a fuss over putting a hard drive and Linux on a PS2? Isnt that " Just a pc in a box".

        I don't know what you guys are smoking, but the Xbox has only JUST began. The online lineup is amazing, the future titles coming through are amazing and the potential is amazing.

        Just like others have said, we haven't even scratched the surface of the potential of the xbox. It is nice being able to play my own music, have basically infinate game saves and have an EXCELLENT LAUNCH Library.

        You want a sh**y launch library look at the ps2. Took a year before things really got going!

        And i'm sorry, a 300.00 xbox doesn't cost anymore then a 299.00 PS2. You DO get DD 5.1, HDTV 1080 support, DVD Playback, (yeah yeah, a remote is needed, spend the 20 freaking bucks!), Great game linup and a hard drive with infinate potential and savegames.

        I'm sorry, but i'm looking foward to Unreal Championship with the voice commander. It will be nice to not need a keyboard and be able to yell at people.

      • I was not criticizing the capabilities of the Xbox! I was not criticizing the capabilities of the Xbox! I was not criticizing the capabilities of the Xbox!

        Of course it's a capable gaming machine, it's a PC!

        That's its strength, but it is also its weakness.

        I'm not criticizing the hardware, I'm criticizing the company. They are trying to gain marketshare in the industry by selling a piece of equipment way below cost, and they are doing that because they aren't capable of developing a dedicated gaming system that can be sold cheaply, above cost.

        Folks, they cannot take a loss forever. Something eventually has to give, either the hardware or the price.

        Also, my criticism of their game lineup is an opinion, you may disagree. But many people are of the same opinion as myself, their lineup is not diverse enough to get the attention of a wide enough audience.

    • by Nindalf ( 526257 )
      They're in for the long haul. They know people will buy the GameCube for the Mario/Zelda/Metroid games when they come out. They're not going to abandon their system, or development of their flagship products, just because people haven't bought it on the merits of the first wave software.

      I also believe that their next portable platform will play GC discs. Long haul.

      If I ran a game company, I'd be working on GC games. Ones with big, readable text for small screens.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @09:21AM (#3415225) Journal
    Takahashi realizes that his book may annoy Microsoft corporate types. "Any of the insidery stuff they just really didn't want to get out," he said. "The fact that the initial code name was Project Midway -- they don't want the Japanese people to know that because it will hurt their feelings." The Battle of Midway in 1942 was the turning point of the Pacific War. Before the November 2001 launch of the Xbox, all of the players in the console hardware market -- Sony, Nintendo and Sega -- were Japanese firms.

    This is the famous Microsoft sensitivity and respect to the rights and cultures of others coming to the fore.

    Seriously, this sort of thing is a part of the corporate culture. _Somebody_ had to approve the code name.

    It comes down to how much respect does MS have for others, inside the company?

    • Midway was actually a much argued about compromise. Gate's preferred code name was Hiroshima.

      Ballmer convince Gates that a code name that referenced the deaths of a mere couple thousand Japanese would be less controversial.

    • Midway used to be a big name in the used to be big pinball industry.

      Seems like the codename could be construed as an homage to that rather than a WWII reference.
  • The Inquirer had this [] nice suggestion about the XBox-2. Wouldn't that be funny if it happened?
  • Is Dave Cuttler still working for Microsoft? I remember he was once in charge of the NT project, but rumours say he had to give up the control because of internal disagreements.
    • Apparrantly he still is, or is at least acting as a consultant for
      OS development. When AMD did their teleconference recently
      announcing MS support for the Opteron processor, they made a
      point of name-dropping Mr. Cutler as a point of reference
      for the work MS is doing putting in x86-64 support.
      They did not go into specifics as to what role he is playing
      at the company, but he still has some official position there.
  • Microsoft seems to think that they can treat the Xbox like a piece of software. "This version didn't work out so great. Luckily, we have mandatory upgrades in the EULA, so people will have to buy the next version." No. They fail to realize that companies like Sony and Nintendo have successful consoles because they are *extremely* well refined for doing one thing only and that one thing well: playing games. (Duh.) Case in point: the SNES. Weak ass machine, 128/16kb sys/vid RAM, 3.5/2.6/1.7MHz CPU. Effectively less powerful than any given PC 5 years before its time. Yet, it's tight, well designed hardware was able to deliver astonishing audio and video effects for the time.

    So, Microsoft decides to jump on the boat and they offer a console that is really nothing more than a repackaged desktop PC. Stock *everything* except for their pretty case. Microsoft sees Windows as "successful", and surely thought that if they do to the Xbox as with Windows, it too will be successful. That is to make it has huge and feature rich as they possibly can. Totally the wrong idea. It needs to fail so that game companies see quite clearly that this is no way to offer a console. I would venture that if the Xbox were a success, we'd see more slapped together consoles like this cropping up from Nintendo, Sony, or whoever else. Now they know they really have to engineer hardware instead of use the current market hardware like a Lego-kit to build a game platform.
  • And what happened to the team?

    And what happened to Data General eventually?

    The sad fact is that most "hardware" ventures, regardless of the industry, are short-lived.

    The X-Box will have had a "shelf-life"/"existence in the retail space," about the same as any other consumer product.

    In our own industry: Remember the Altair 8080? The Osborne-1? The Bernouli Drive? Data General- Keronics/EDS? DEC PDPs & Vaxes? Packard-Bell?

    In other industries: The Packard automobile? Erie-Bucyrus & cable bucket excavators? Pet Rocks? The original Sony Walk-man before it became a profitless knock-off sold in a blister-pack for ten bucks by brothers on the street.
    The list grows daily of products relegated to the ash-can of consumer oblivion. The disappearace is hastened by corporate pressures to perform.

    The bigger the corporation, the higher the pressure. A lot of smaller companies would be quite happy with the X-Box's sales volume but it won't do for a Microsoft. The X-Box team need a lot more money coming in to stay alive as a budget line item.
    • I don't quite see your point, to be honest with you. You mention SONM (great book, btw; I think I own a first edition but I'm not sure), but I don't really see how it connects to your final point.

      That said... your list is a lot less coherent than makes any sense. The Altair didn't last long, but it started an entire industry; one could make the same case about the Osborne-1 and portable systems. The Bernoulli still exists; the cartridges are smaller and we call it the Zip drive now, but the technology is the same. Data General was probably a history of missed opportunities more than anything else, though I don't know the whole story. Packard-Bell was a joke from the beginning. As for DEC... you mean to hold up a lineage (lineages really, but you're slamming them together) that got close to thirty years of lifespan overall as a failure (assuming that's your point)?

      I don't really understand where you're coming from at all. The Xbox is in the situation it's in because of a failure to gain credibility in a vicious market. Indrema tried the same thing with very similar hardware and never even made it to the plate. The fact is that some consumer products will last a very long time. Some won't. (As for the Sony Walkman, what exactly you're getting at there escapes me completely -- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that, and I'd say knockoffs or no the Walkman and its successors have been a success beyond anyone's wildest dreams...)

  • by nolife ( 233813 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @10:00AM (#3415488) Homepage Journal
    More games, more games, more games. Then lower the price of the games. People are not buying a console because it looks cool, was made by a certain company or simply just to have another one. You buy it to play games.
    I bought a Dreamcast in December and have bought at least 20 games for it since then. Why? Its a decent console, connects to the internet, and most of the games still left are under $10. I have spent less for my DC and all 20 games combined then the Xbox and one controller costs. $50-60 for one freaking Xbox game is over 2X above what I will ever pay for a console game, therefore my kids and I will stick to our PC's, Dreamcast and PS1.

    The gamers and must-haves will always buy new, they already have the Xbox and now its up to the general public to keep it floating.
  • "And now, the 5 best games for X-Box this year!"

    "In first place........Halo!"
    "In second place........Halo!"
    "In third place........Halo!"

  • How ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spankophile ( 78098 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @11:18AM (#3416105) Homepage
    The article is biased, and full of contradictions.
    It tries to make the point that since the head of the development effort is quitting his position, he must know something we don't, and that the XBox must be doomed. It then follows with this:

    "Absolutely! Xbox kicks ass."

    But, hey, what else would you expect an ex-Xbox evangelist to say?

    So... he's not quitting because the Xbox is doomed? What's this article about again?
  • Kind of like watching a train wreck. Grab your popcorn and pull up a chair. Has anybody registered fuc*

    Hey things are fun on this side of the fence. I was sad during the demise of the Dreamcast....Now I am neutral (cause I don't have the funds to participate in the console wars of 2002.)
  • The capacity used on the XBOX even by Halo is at a very low percentage.
    That is waste of resources and no company has been able to write code that would use it at its full potential.

    Seamus might be leaving his job but he is not out of the industry. His next objective is to develop games. New games are what is needed for all that waste capacity you have in your living room. The best thing he could have done for the XBOX was growing it from a different perspective. He is the person who knows its architecture the best.

    I can't wait to play one of his games on his console.
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Friday April 26, 2002 @01:38PM (#3417078) Homepage
    Why is the Console "Network effect" never mentioned. Has anyone ever seen something on the local geographical distribution of console sales. Local, like by city or smaller geographical units.

    Most gamers buy the same console as their friends so they can share games. This would make the incumbent almost impossible to dislodge and might be the "real" reason the market can't sustain 3 consoles. Dreamcast had lots of good games but I think the "Network effect" killed it, little else.
    This would mean that Japan for sure is dead for Xbox (see sales data below), Europe will depend on the GC early succes. The GC addresses a slightly younger audience so they are to a lesser degree taking on PS2 head-on. Sales of Consoles in Japan early April. Third week sales is out but I couldn't find it)

    Sales tracking firm Media Create reports that in the first week of April (4/1 - 4/7), Microsoft sold an abysmal 2,179 units, a number that in and of itself is astonishingly low for a newly-released console system. But when you examine sales of some of the other hardware on the market, the news gets even worse. In the same week in April, Sony's seven-year old PS one platform sold 3,959 units. And get this--Sega's discontinued Dreamcast console even managed to outsell the Xbox with 3,427 units purchased by Japanese gamers. As for the other next-generation platforms, the PS2 and the GameCube sold 80,734 units and 15,06
    8 units respectively.
  • by LennyDotCom ( 26658 ) <> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:41AM (#3420818) Homepage Journal
    Since M$ has a history of just dropping things that don't work out right. Is the Xbox worth it to them to stick it out for the long haul? We all know that given enough time M$ can make any product acceptible to consumers.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN